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I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tradesport predictions and other election matters

(Updated below - Update II - Update III (Fox exit polls - very good) - Update IV - Update V - constant updates now)

Since the first election results won't be available until 6:00 pm EST (the full polling closing times are here), and exit polls are being tightly controlled, the next best thing to satisfy the craving for an election fix is Tradesports, a very active and (seemingly) informed market for political junkies to trade in predictive shares for each individual Congressional race and overall control of Congress. In the same way The New York Stock Exchange functions, the trading transactions at various prices between willing buyer and seller produce (at least in theory) an accurate probability for the outcome of each race.

Below are the percentages assigned for each listed outcome. The Democrats need a net gain of six seats to gain control of the Senate, and if this trading market is right, they would pick up exactly six seats (the Democratic "turn" seats are bolded below). On the race-by-race list, the market is betting that no Democratic incumbent loses (none is even close to endangered):

Senate seats to watch

Arizona - turning Democratic - 7.9%
Connecticut - remaining Democratic (Lamont) - 4.0%
Connecticut - remaining "Democratic" (Lieberman)- 94.7%
Maryland - remaining Democratic - 65.3%
Michigan - remaining Democratic - 94.9%
Minnesota - remaining Democratic - 92.9%
Missouri - turning Democratic - 60.0%
Montana - turning Democratic - 69.0%
New Jersey - remaining Democratic - 94.2%
Ohio - turning Democratic - 96.2%
Pennsylvania - turning Democratic - 94.2%
Rhode Island - turning Democratic - 68.0%
Tennessee - turning Democratic - 22.0%
Virginia - turning Democratic - 66.0%
Washington - remaining Democratic - 92.2%

Conventional wisdom (and polling data) suggests that the most difficult (necessary) races for the Democrats to win will be Virginia and Missouri (Rhode Island is close behind), and the Tradesports market is consistent with that view. The most vulnerable Democratic seat according to Tradesports (and recent polls) is Maryland.

Despite the fact that Democrats are favored on the Tradesports individual race-by-race list to win the 6 needed Senate seats, Tradesports currently lists overall Republican retention of the Senate as 69.5% likely (this discrepancy is likely explained by the fact that because Democrats must win all six of the seats they have a real chance to win and cannot lose any that they are favored to keep, they have no margin for error).

By contrast, the Tradesports market is virtually certain that Democrats will take control of the House. It lists the chances of Republican retention of House control at 16.5% (consistently, the chances that Democrats will win the needed 15 or more seats is 84%; that they will win more than 24 seats is at 50%).

Many of these races, particularly the close ones, fluctuate, sometimes wildly, even by hour. I will add updates if they are warranted, and will also add updates here of any relevant or potentially relevant election information brought to my attention.

UPDATE: As a reminder, I am posting at C&L today as well, and have posts here, here and here.

UPDATE II: Say what you will about Rich Lowry (as I often do), but he has excellent inside Republican sources (which use NR as one of their propaganda venues), and his reporting of the conversations he has with them is generally quite reliable (which is why I cite them as much as I do).

Lowry has some pessimistic posts up at the Corner right now (pessimistic, that is, for those like Lowry who are rooting for Republicans). He says that GOP insiders consider 8 House seats almost certainly gone, 8 more that will likely be lost (barring some very unforeseen changes), and 20 more that are "true toss-ups." If that is even remotely accurate, the Democrats will pick up the 15 seats they need easily, and then it will be a matter of how much that can be padded.

In an earlier post, Lowry said that the vile Jean Schmidt is in danger of losing. He also says, in a separate post, that the DSCC is optimistic about Virginia and "cautiously optimistic" about Missouri (the two key Senate races, along with Maryland). He adds that they are "jubilant" about Pennsylvania (the ejection of Rick Santorum from elected politics really is a richly deserved event, though nowhere near sufficient for today)

Finally, there is this guide from GOP pollster Frank Luntz identifying the significance of the early races in the states where the polls close first -- first Kentucky and Indiana at 6:00 p.m. EST, followed by a whole host of other states at 7:00 p.m. Eve Fairbanks at The Plank has a similar analysis.

With all of this -- meaning anything other than actual results -- take it purely for entertainment and with a huge grain of salt, no matter how authoritative it may sound. Anything that is not an actual result should be deemed totally unreliable (as 2004 taught), and I'm posting it solely to help take the edge off the cravings and fixes that I know are intense.

UPDATE III: Fox News just released some of its exit polling data, which were uniformly positive for Democrats (remember, of course, how unreliable exit polls were in 2004).

Voters said they disapproved of Bush's job performance by a 41-58 margin (and Chris Wallace noted that for the 1994 GOP sweep, Clinton's approval rating was higher than that -- 44).

Voters (42%) said the most important issue was "scandals" -- and those who said that, unsurprisingly, voted for Democrats 61-36%.

The second most important issue (33%) was Iraq -- and those who said that, unsurprisingly, voted for Democrats 61-36%.

When asked whether their votes were decided by national or local issues -- many believe that they key for a huge Democratic win is to have a nationalized election -- voters said they decided based on national issues by a 62-33% margin.

Almost 20% of voters were identified as "late deciders" -- those who made up their mind in the last week. Of those, 57% said they voted Democratic and 39% said they voted Republican. So much for the epic late Republican swing.

Finally, Fox said it conducted its own telephone polls in 11 key Senate states, and that 6 Democratic challengers in those states are "running strong," while 3 Republicans look like they will hold on. They were cryptic about it because they don't want to identify any specific state until the polls close, but that is clearly good news for Democrats as well.

UPDATE IV: ThinkProgress has obtained CNN's state-by-state early exit polling data. It is obviously extremely encouraging, but proceed with extreme caution. This was exactly the sort of data that caused Bob Shrum to call John Kerry "Mr. President" at around 4:00 p.m. in November, 2004.

UPDATE V: Kate O'Beirne is very unhappy based on what her sources are telling her (and these hard-core, old hand Bush followers who have been around DC forever, like her, have decent to excellent sources):

POST-MORTEM, PRE-MORTEM [Kate O'Beirne]

A survey of 1200 likely voters taken in 12 swing districts this past Sunday and Monday might explain why Republicans might have a long night ahead of them. The veteran GOP pollster says he has "never seen anything like it." Asked who is more likely to cut taxes for the middle class - 42 percent said Democrats, 29 picked Republicans. Who is more likely to reduce the deficit? 47 - Democrats, 22 - Repubicans. And, who is more likely to control spending? Democrats - 38, Republicans - 21. In the past, even if Repubicans didn't win some race or another, they were more trusted on taxes and spending issues.

Thus far, the Fox "All-Star" Panel is like a morgue. Brit Hume and Fred Barnes seem on the verge of tears and Bill Kristol feels his Iran War slipping away. They have their exit polling data and are being very clear that it's extremely pro-Democratic. Again, though, exit polling can be wildly off (though exit pollsters claim to have fixed the problems that plagued them in 2004).

Very up-to-date results for every Congressional race will be posted here throughout the night.

Finally, Markos says this:

And on a non-House note -- don't look at the exit polls. DON'T. They don't mean squat. We'll be getting real results in a few hours. I'm not blogging them because, quite frankly, I don't believe them.

He's absolutely right. I will blog it when I get it, because I think it should be up to you, not me, to decide what information you believe or not believe, but Markos' admonition is wise.

* * * * * * *

Actual results are now coming in from Kentucky, the only state where all polls closed at 6:00 p.m. EST. The key race there is the challenge to Republican incumbent Rep. Ann Northup. That is considered a toss-up race, so a Democratic win there would be a good sign. With 37% of the precincts counted, the Democratic challenger is winning 51-48%. Those are actual results.

Another very good results page for House races is here, which is the DCCC page that Senators and House members are allegedly using for their news, so it is reputed to be very up-to-date.

From now on, I will add updates without noting them at the top.

* * * * * *

Polls in Indiana and most Florida districts have now closed and results are starting to become available. As a reminder, this post and this one offer a good analysis as to what to look for with these early races.

* * * * * * *

Glenn Beck on CNN just said that the most "perplexing" event to him was that Rick Santorum is going to lose, because he is the "Winston Churchill of our generation that we've all been looking for." Watching the carousel of Bush followers really reminds one so vividly why it's so necessary that Republicans not just lose tonight, but be shattered, smashed and deeply humbled.

Of course, most Bush worshippers are trying to claim that Republicans are losing not because people are angry about the Iraq war or Republican radicalism, but because Republicans weren't "conservative" enough on spending, immigration, even terrorism, etc. etc. -- as though Republicans are losing because they weren't sufficiently extreme and people wanted more warmongering and intense partisanship from the Bush administration. They simply can't accept that the core of the country -- its center -- has abandoned their political movement in disgust over its deep-seeted deceit, corruption and extremism.

In Kentucky, Ann Northup is behind her challenger by a slightly larger margin, with 74% of the precincts counted. In Florida, "Mark Foley" (who is really Joe Negron) is running about even with the Democratic challenger, with 10% of the precincts counted. Virginia Senate race results starting to become available.

* * * * * *

I didn't see it, but Mona in Comments said: "Bill Kristol just told Brit Hume that George Allen would be winning, 'but for the blogs.' They are all talking about how important the blogosphere has been in this election."

Yarmuth up by 4,000 with 81% of the precincts counted, but if one doesn't know what precincts remain to be counted, it's difficult to assess the significance of that lead.

In Indiana, the three Democratic challengers in the close races are all leading the Republican incumbents (two of them by large margins), with roughly 25-30% of the precincts counted.

In Virginia, Allen has a very slight lead over Webb (50-49) with only 25% of the precincts counted. Again, without knowing what is and is not counted, it's still far too early to read anything into that. But that race is indispensible if Democrats are to take control of the Senate.

* * * *

Fox has called IN-08 for the Democratic challenger over the GOP incumbent Rep. John Hostettler. That's one seat down, 14 to go, and then the Subpoenas can go out.

* * * * *

Fox just called Pennsylvania (ending the career of the "Winston Churchill of our generation), as well as New Jersey, in favor of Bob Menendez. Neither of those is a surprise, but the Menendez race is not really close, and many thought it might be.

The Fox commentators are saying that the actual results are coming out better for Democrats than the final polls, which means that the last deciders broke largely for Democrats (so much for the great John Kerry controversy, so much for the "tightening" of the race, so much for all of the talking points Republicans were pushing for the last week).

* * * * *

Mike DeWine's lost to Sherrod Brown is now official (I find it particularly gratifying when the GOP Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committee members -- who were active in helping the administration conceal and then escape responsibility for its lawbreaking, are defeated). That's 2 Democratic pick-ups thus far (Pennsylvania and Ohio) along with a key Democratic hold (New Jersey).

Chuck Schumer just said that although Webb and Allen are currently even, the Northern Virginia precincts which will be favorable to Webb have not been counted, and he certainly seemed optimistic about the outcome. If Democrats win Virginia, control of the Senate will likely hinge on Missouri.

* * * * *

That last statement was a somewhat overstated. In order to takeover the Senate, the Democrats (in addition to winning in Virginia and Missouri) also would have to win in Montana, Rhode Island and Maryland - none of which is certain.

* * * * *

Both CNN and Fox are projecting Joe Lieberman's victory over Ned Lamont. The Kentucky race with Ann Northup is almost completely counted and it looks (to me) as though she will lose. That is an important pick-up for Democrats, because that race was far from certain.

* * * *

Both CNN and Fox called Maryland for Ben Cardin over Michael Steele. That's good and important. They need to win in Montana, Rhode Island, Missouri and Virginia (still looking uncertain) for Senate control (assuming they lose in Tennessee and Arizona).

Also, it seems clear Democrats will take over the House, but I haven't seen much evidence that it's going to be some sort of massive, overwhelming sweep. It might be, but I don't think that what we know now suggests that, because many of the toss-up races are extremely close, and even some of the seats Democrats were expected to win (such as Mark Foley's seat) look like they might stay Republican.

* * * * *

Brit Hume bids a sad farewell to Ann Northup -- a Democratic win in Kentucky.

* * * * *

Good-bye to Lincoln Chafee, hello to Sheldon Whitehouse, in Rhode Island - another Democratic pick-up in the Senate. That means (a) Republicans pick-up nothing in the Senate (Democrats hold all of their seats) and (b) Democrats need Virginia, Missouri and Montana for Senate control.

* * * * *
Another Democratic takeover in the House -- IN-02 -- Donnelly over Chocala.

* * * * *

I just watched CNN interview Atrios at the Bloggers party about the various races, and afterwards, the anchor asked the reporter which races the conservative bloggers were focused on, and she said: "a lot of them are focused on the gay marriage amendments." I bet they are. If I were them, I'd also want to look at anything other than the House, Senate and Governships.

* * * * *

I wonder how Tom Delay and Karl Rove feel watching Nancy Pelosi take over their Congress?

I really highly recommend watching Fox News; it's like being at a wake for a person that you're really happy has died, but everyone else is in deep mourning.

* * * * *

The key right now is Virginia - Allen has clung to a small lead the whole time and it still hasn't vanished, with 82% of the precincts reporting. Chuck Schumer said awhile ago that it's the pro-Webb Northern Virginia precincts left, but I'm not convinced that's true. We'll see.

* * * * *

Connecticut's Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson stayed in Congress for almost 25 years, and she ran very aggressive and manipulative ads (focused, in part, on how Democrats oppose eavesdropping on terrorists) in order to win a 13th term. But she has been uprooted from that moldy seat, as she lost to her challenger.

That was considered an important seat for determining how big the Democratic victory would be. Major Garrett on Fox is reporting that GOP strategists are now hoping to confine Democratic House pick-ups to 20, rather than 30 or more.

* * * *

When one focuses on the House race-by-race, one realizes just what lowly, corrupt riff-raff has composed the Republican Congressional majority for so long: Democrats, for instance, are apparently picking up Bob Ney's abandoned (indicted), Curt Weldon's seat in Pennsylvania (under investigation), Tom DeLay's seat in Texas (indicted), and Don Sherwood's seat in Pennsylvania (mistress-beating scandal). Almost appropriately, though, "Mark Foley" is still running slightly ahead in his Florida district and may actually win.

Still some excellent, highly deserving Republican loss possibilities remaining: Ohio's Jean Schmidt, New York's Tom Reynolds, New Mexico's Heather Wilson.

I am currently in a time zone three hours ahead of the East Coast, so my blow-by-blow blogging is likely to end soon, though I will obviously have more to say tomorrow.

* * * *

If it turns out, as it might, that the Republicans hang on to control of the Senate because of Virginia and Tennessee (and if they can minimize House losses by, among other things, taking two Democratic seats in Georgia and hanging on to the two endangered Florida seats), it really will mean that the Republican Party is well on its way to becoming a regional party - The Party of the South. Republicans are incapable of competing in the Northeast and West Coast, and are being increasingly rejected by the Midwest and Mountain West.

* * * * *

I neglected to add the heinous Marilyn Musgrave and J.D. Hayworth to the list of GOP Representatives who so richly deserve to lose.

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